Safety Step has been manufacturing its top-quality step stools since 1995. With a growing array of products for the household, medical, recreational, transportation and industrial markets, Safety Step’s diverse customers include consumers, distributors and local/regional businesses across the US and Canada.
Like many manufacturers, Safety Step is always looking for ways to improve efficiency and increase automation. According to Ben Wisdom, Quality Assurance Manager, “One of my jobs is to help streamline our processes and save our people some time with manual data entry. I was doing research on the internet and discovered the term ‘EDI,’ which led me to TrueCommerce and then to TrueCommerce Nexternal eCommerce.”
Safety Steps chose TrueCommerce Nexternal eCommerce and TrueCommerce EDI because the two solutions were natively integrated out-of-the-box and could automatically send data from online orders to the company’s AccountMate business system.
Following a smooth implementation to upload product and customer data and connect the systems, Safety Step soft-launched its new TrueCommerce Nexternal web storefront in January 2019. The eCommerce platform integrates with its AccountMate business system by passing data through the TrueCommerce Transaction Manager.
The new integration saves significant order processing time by eliminating the need to manually enter eCommerce orders.
“The new process is working great and is a lot easier than before,” says Mr. Wisdom. “When an online order is shipped we mark it as ‘paid’ and it goes over to Transaction Manager automatically. Once a day we download the EDI export files and merge them using a third-party text editor called Notepad++. Then we import the resulting text file into AccountMate.”
The new integration also helps streamline B2B orders placed by phone or email.
“It’s been a challenge to get our B2B customers to change their paradigm and order online,” explains Mr. Wisdom. “They prefer to generate a PO in their business system and email it to us as a PDF.”
Safety Step’s staff leverages a third-party tool to convert the PDF format orders into spreadsheet data that can be imported into Nexternal and then sent to AccountMate.
“We’ve reduced B2B order processing time by 60% to 70% thanks to TrueCommerce Nexternal’s flexibility,” Mr. Wisdom notes.
The TrueCommerce solution also drives fulfillment efficiency gains.
“We fulfill out of two different warehouses and might be adding a third,” clarifies Mr. Wisdom. “In the past, we’ve experienced missed cell phone calls and long turnaround times on emails when trying to get orders processed, packed and shipped.”
The process improved significantly following the TrueCommerce adoption.
“Now that we use TrueCommerce Nexternal for fulfillment, the warehouse person can just log in, see what orders need to be shipped, and check them off one by one,” Mr. Wisdom adds. “We use Nexternal’s ‘comments box’ feature for instructions to the warehouse, which saves time and trouble by eliminating emails and phone calls.”
Prior to launching its TrueCommerce Nexternal online store within its company website, Safety Step had a separate, standalone eCommerce site.
“The old site just wasn’t very user-friendly, either for customers or for us,” Mr. Wisdom recalls. “When a customer placed an online order, we’d receive an email and then process it manually. Now all that is automated.”
There has been a definite increase in online orders with Safety Step’s new eCommerce site.
“We just passed our 1,000th eCommerce order a few days ago,” offers Mr. Wisdom. “The system handled our busy season with flying colors.”
The new online storefront makes it fast and easy to introduce new products to the market and start seeing results.
“Recently we added a new product—a mobile fencing system for dogs that caters to the recreational vehicle (RV) market,” continues Mr. Wisdom. “We’ve been amazed at how many people are finding and ordering the product already.”
The responsive TrueCommerce Nexternal site also helps foster a closer connection with customers that enables the manufacturer to better serve its customers and markets.
“We get questions and comments through the new site, which is great for customer service,” Mr. Wisdom mentions. “We take that feedback seriously because it tells us how we can improve our products. Customer feedback has also helped us improve our auto-generated confirmation and shipping emails.”
TrueCommerce support has been both timely and informative, helping to add value to the integration.
“I have nothing but good things to say about TrueCommerce Nexternal support,” Mr. Wisdom emphasizes. “Anytime I send an email or voicemail our account manager replies right away. His responses are typically very insightful and informative. I interact with a number of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors and TrueCommerce is number one in terms of responsiveness when I have a problem. I would definitely recommend TrueCommerce to other manufacturers that are looking for ways to streamline their processes and are currently doing a lot of manual order entry and/or struggling to communicate with third-party warehouses.”